Category Archives: Sheffield United

Blades sign Zivkovic

Sheffield United have signed striker Richairo Živković from Chinese club Changchun Yatai.

The former Dutch U21s forward arrives in S2 on loan until the end of the season with an option of a permanent switch in the summer.

Živković, 23, joined FC Groningen at the age of 11 and progressed through the ranks, signing a three-year contract with the Green-White Army in 2012 and became the clubs youngest ever debutant.

In the Dutch top-flight Živković netted 10 goals in 33 appearances, prompting Ajax to swoop for his services in March 2014,  following in the footsteps of Luis Suarez who had previously transferred from Groningen to the biggest name in Dutch football.

He netted once in seven senior appearances in Amsterdam, but he impressed scoring 27 times in 40 appearances for the clubs reserves side, in addition to loan spells at Willem II and FC Utrecht.

Živković joined the Belgian Pro League signing a long-term deal with KV Oostende and then joined Changchun Yatai in February 2019, where he has scored 12 goals in 17 appearances.

Blade boss Chris Wilder spoke about signing the forward: “People will recognise we do sometimes go left field with our signings, but we’ve worked very hard on this one, because we have had to.” he said.

“We know enough about him, we’ve kept tabs on Richairo for a while and tracked his progress. He is a Dutch international at ages under the senior level, he’ll be unpredictable to other teams, but we know what we’re getting and he wants to make the most of the opportunity.

“He will give us genuine pace at the top of the pitch. We’re learning all the time this season, but pace in the Premier League is key and Richairo is someone we think can kick us on.

“Hopefully things go well enough to turn it into a permanent move in the summer – this is another signing of a young player with an eye on the future.”

Blades fans let us know your thoughts on the deal. Are you pleased with the striker? Where else do you need to strengthen?

Match PREVIEW: Wolves vs Sheffield United

This weeks Sunday afternoon kick off is set up to be anything but relaxing, with two of the most in form Premier League teams going head to head at the Molineux.

See the source image
McBurnie celebrates late equaliser against Manchester United last weekend.

Both teams will enter the fixture on the back of 3-3 score lines; Wolves progressing through Europe midweek and United gaining one point in a game where they perhaps should have taken all three. The supporters will certainly be hoping for a repeat of the exciting performances both teams have delivered since the beginning of the season.

Wolves fans have certainly enjoyed watching prolific forward Raul Jimenez and tricky winger Adama Traore who have 12 goals between them this season, which has allowed Nuno’s team to balance both Premier League and European football this season. Jimenez has been praised by Nuno for his successes in front of goal this season with reference to his clinical finishing and aerial threat which has galvanised the team throughout the season.

On the other hand Sheffield’s following will not have seen as many goals from their team as Wolves have, but this is not to say it will be a game of out scoring. Sheffield’s immaculate record away from Bramall Lane is only matched by runaway league leaders Liverpool, and no doubt manager Chris Wilder will be putting out his most consistent team to carry forward this record for another week. The wing back positions have become integral for the Blades just as the skilful Edna Stevens, who has shown talent and delivered dangerous balls which have been optimized by the lurking striker in the form of top goal scorer Lys Mousset. The effort shown by the players on the pitch has been replicated within the whole of the South Yorkshire club, which is what has seen Sheffield create many friends already in the their time in the top flight, which is looking to be a lengthy stay.

With two highly respected managers, this fixture is set to be a test of two great footballing minds, a test of strength and talent for the players and a test for the spectators to stay on their seats!

Is 3 5 2 The New 4 4 2?

This post looks at the emergnce if that is the right word of the 3 5 2 Formation.

Is it the new  4 4 2, which in recent years has become our default, almost formation in the English league?

The 3 5 2 Formation is not exactly new, and has been employed by a number of foreign coaches over the years, with great success.

How it works, is like this and it is accepted that there are variations of the formation, according to the coach or manager employing the tactic.

With that in mind, lets look at some of the teams who use this formation:

Accrington Stanley

AFC Wimbledon

Wolves

Newcastle United

Sheffield United

Czech Republic

MK Dons

The formation relies on the use of very speedy, and effective wingbacks.

Those Wingbacks can either be, Wingers, or they can fullbacks pushed up operating as wingers. Ashley Young is a great example of a winger turned full back over time.

If you are using fullbacks pushed up as wingers, then effectively you are leaving wingers redundant, which is in the case of AFC Wimbledon, who use 3 Central Defenders, primarily because Wally Downes who implemented the system is a defensive coach, so you could almost say he was using a 5 3 2 version, though that is digressing from the point.

The general idea is to play two full backs and one central defender, so that you keep the players positionally as close to their favoured posistion as possible, without too much disruption to the team flow.

The 3 5 2 offers a lot of flexibility to the changing needs as the game unfolds, compared to other formations, such as the 4 2 3 1, or the 4 3 3.

Wolves and Sheffield United are two great examples of this, because both clubs, have progressed through the English Football League Championship and now are in the premiership playing this formation.

It is a system that is very difficult to play against, because when it works well, the team employing it, very often outnumber the defensive team and always have the flanks overloaded through the use of the over lapping ‘outer’ defenders.

This is the reason, that Arsenal, struggled last night against Sheffield United, England came unstuck in their recent match against the Czech Republic, Wolves were able to go to the Etihad and beat Man City 2-0, while Accrington Stanley beat Ipswich on Sunday 2-0 in League 1.

In fact Sheffield United are probably the best example of how this system works effectively, because together with Wolves they have used the system the longest, Sheffield United started using it in League 1, when Chris Wilder took over.

The defending team, have absolutly no idea, where the attacks are going to come from, especially as in the case of Wolves, who employ an attacking midfielder in their version of the system, while Sheffield United, newly promoted, don’t.

It will also be interesting to see, if Newcastle United, continue to use it, because they have just reverted back to it, to cater to the teams strengths and in doing so, their results have improved.

The one downside to the system, is that though you have numbers in attack, should you get caught on the counter attack, if you lost possession, then you are liable to potentialy concede goals, through lack of cover.

Either way the teams listed in this article who use the system, will be worth following and their progress noted this season.

Gunning for the Top Four

Arsenal are a conundrum at the moment. It feels like there definitely is something up with them, but also like everything might just be going alright as Unai Emery attempts to move on from the Arsene Wenger era.

Opinion is generally split on whether the Spaniard is doing a good job or not, although last night’s 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United seems like it may have sent Arsenal fans over the edge. In fairness to Emery though, annoying the Arsenal fans doesn’t take much if you’re their manager.

The loss at Bramall Lane saw the Gunners spurn the opportunity to go third – and if they had won then perspectives today would probably be greatly different. 

But they did not, and their defeat was against a Sheffield United side who are not to be underestimated. The Blades are organised, well drilled and constantly surprising the Premier League with innovative tactics. It’s probably safe to assume that we’re all now up to date on the functions of overlapping centre backs.

Watching the game, it really didn’t feel like Arsenal were ever going to score. To use that old cliche, they could have kept playing till the next morning and still not have found a way through. 

Even recapping over the short burst of highlights Sky Sports graces us with on YouTube, there is very little for Arsenal to shout about from the game. Whoever was editing that video would have had a hard job scraping together three minutes of action. 

But it’s not like the Gunners lack any abundance of attacking talent. They have Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe as a ‘first choice’ front three. Then they also have the young talents of Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock. 

Behind them in midfield, they have the aggressive pairing of Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, as well as Dani Ceballos adding a bit more technical quality. 

With this considered, you feel that Emery should be doing better. It seems he is struggling to find a system to incorporate and fully utilise the talents of his squad. Sheffield United were superb on Monday night but with the quality Arsenal have, they really should have created more. 

If only they had a little bit more class in the final third. A proven creative, an assists machine. Someone who, preferably, had proven themselves on the world stage. 

The above is, of course, a thinly veiled reference to Meszut Ozil – the forgotten man at the Emirates. It’s only three years since he recorded 19 assists in one season, and it seems Arsenal are in need of his creativity now. 

But he generally remains on the bench or out of the squad, with Emery tight lipped about what exactly is going on. It’s a mystery that has, unbelievably, seemed to unite Arsenal fans behind Ozil. 

There are certainly failings on Emery’s part, but there are some things that just haven’t gone his way.

The Gunners have generally failed to recruit well in defence of late, and what they have to show for the fruits of their labour is a centre back pairing of Sokratis and David Luiz. This partnership has become something of a calamity duo, with Luiz’s failings in one on one situations becoming ever more apparent. 

And then there are the early season injuries to Hector Bellerin and new signing Kieran Tierney going against Emery. Arsenal look, on paper, relatively strong at full back with these two fit. Bellerin’s return is imminent while Tierney has apparently recovered. Emery’s unwillingness to throw him straight in, though, is yet another thing that is angering fans. 

So while some things are certainly not helpful for Emery, there are ways in which he could be doing better. Some fluidity and creativity is needed up front, and the ex-PSG manager desperately needs to find the best system for his talented front line. Most likely, it will involve some difficult decisions on who to leave out. 

So in the sense that Emery has gotten some good attackers and is blooding young prospects (which, thanks to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, we now know is the best thing in the world), he is doing pretty well.

But there is a lack of coherency and guile, as well as floundering attempts to find the best system for his side. And not to forget the shortcomings at centre back. So there’s some good, but also some bad.

With a fully fit and firing squad, Arsenal should really be aiming for the top four. The Gunners will not want another season confined to the Europa League. 

Match Preview: Sheffield United V Nottingham Forest

Sheffield United will be looking to bounce back from Saturday’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Millwall when they face Nottingham Forest at Bramall Lane, on Friday lunchtime, kick-off 12.30pm.

The Blades, who have drawn the last two games, currently sit in third of the Sky Bet Championship following back to back 1-1 draws with Birmingham City and Millwall respectively, putting a dent in their hopes of automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Following the draw with Millwall, Blades boss Chris Wilder will be without three of his key players for the clash with Martin O’Neill’s Forest, defenders Chris Basham and John Egan are ruled out through injury and suspension respectively whilst club captain Billy Sharp has also been ruled out after he limped off during the draw with the Lions due to a hamstring injury.

Wilder confirmed the news of both Basham and Sharp would miss the game, at his press conference on Wednesday morning, saying: “Billy is out for the weekend and so is Bash, so that’s disappointing for myself and the football club.

“I’ve been consistent with my approach throughout the season, people have injuries and suspensions and we have to get over it, we’ve got good enough to come in and replace them.

“We will continue to monitor and assess, short-term they are out, but we will see how they go from Monday onwards, with a view to Ipswich.” he added.

Wilder continued:“The players were as disappointed as any supporter last Saturday, they care as much as anyone, including me.

“There is a lot of the line for them, individually and collectively, those boys care and they want to win.

“We’ve not been given anything, we’ve had to earn everything to get to this position and everything we’ve achieved has been earnt by having a go and coming roaring back to disappointments.”

The Blades will be hoping to get back to winning ways to try and help their quest of promotion as they battle with Leeds United for the second automatic promotion spot alongside Norwich City.

Nottingham Forest will be looking to get back to winning ways after three straight defeats when they face Sheffield United on Friday afternoon.

Forest boss Martin O’Neill will be looking for his side to respond to their three straight defeats against Chris Wilder’s highflying Sheffield United.

Since their last win against Swansea City on 30th March the Reds have lost three straight games against Rotherham United, Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers scoring two goals and conceding seven goals.

The Reds, who have an outside chance of the play-offs this season, currently sit in 11th in the table following one win in five games and will be hoping to claim a second win over the Blades this season following a 1-0 win at the City Ground in November 2018 thanks to Lewis Grabban’s 69th minute winner.

Martin O’Neill will know his side will have to be at their upmost best to beat Chris Wilder’s side at Bramall Lane if they are to have a chance of the play-offs this season, however, if he loses this game then the owners could end up running out of paticence with the former Reds midfielder as defeat at Bramall Lane will be four defeats in their last five games.

The fixture will be a tough test for both sides, however, Sheffield United may just have enough to beat MON’s Reds at Bramall Lane.

Prediction: Sheffield United 2-0 Nottingham Forest

You can catch the fixture live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event from 12.00pm.